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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘AIPAC’

Harriet Sherwood Completely Mischaracterizes Iran Sanctions Bill

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

A March 2nd Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood and Dan Roberts (Binyamin Netanyahu visit will test strains in US-Israel relationship) included the following claim regarding efforts in the US Senate to pass a new Iran sanctions bill:

…the failure of an Aipac-supported effort to pass legislation blocking Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran has led to a reassessment of the fabled ability of its lobbyists to wield a veto over US policy when it comes to matters of Israeli security.

This is a complete mischaracterization of a bill (S.1881 – Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013) which, by all accounts, is designed to put more pressure on Iran so that they’ll comply with any nuclear agreement that is reached with the six world powers.

The bill (sponsored by Senator Robert Menendez, along with 58 co-sponsors) has been accurately described by multiple media sources:

Washington Post

The measure introduced Thursday, if approved, would impose harsh new sanctions on Iran’s petroleum industry while also threatening U.S. allies and partners with financial restrictions unless they sharply curtail trade with Iran. The sanctions would go into effect if Iran violated the terms of the temporary accord reached last month or if it failed to reach a permanent agreement with world powers in a timely manner.

New York Times

A bipartisan group of senators, defying the White House, introduced a bill on Thursday to impose new sanctions on Iran if it failed to conclude a nuclear agreement, or stick to the terms of its interim deal, with the United States and other major powers.

The bill would seek to drive Iran’s oil exports down to zero and penalize its engineering, mining and construction industries. But the sanctions would not take effect before the six-month term of the interim deal expires, and they could be deferred for up to another six months, at Mr. Obama’s request, if the talks looked promising.

ABC News:

A bipartisan group of 26 senators introduced new legislation today proposing potential sanctions against Iran if the country fails to uphold the P5+1 agreement made last month or if it fails to reach a final agreement to terminate its nuclear weapons program.

The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, co-sponsored by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Mark Kirk, R-Ill., which calls for additional reductions in purchases of Iranian petroleum and creates more penalties for parts of the Iranian economy, including engineering, mining and construction.

The bill also provides the administration with up to one year from implementation of the agreement to try to reach a diplomatic solution that would completely end Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Business Insider

The legislation proposes sanctions in the event that Iran breaches the terms of the interim agreement reached last month in Geneva — or if world powers fail to come to a comprehensive agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear energy program.

Politico:

The sanctions legislation would impose conditional economic penalties on Iran if the country fails to follow through on an interim deal or pulls out of ongoing global negotiations to permanently curtail its nuclear ambitions in return for some sanctions relief.

CNN

Bipartisan legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Thursday that would authorize new economic sanctions on Iran if it breaches an interim agreement to limit its nuclear program or fails to strike a final accord terminating those ambitions.

Clearly, the bill would increase sanctions against Iran only in the event negotiations with the six world powers (P5+1) fail to produce an agreement, or if Iran fails to abide by an agreement.  So, the claim made by Sherwood and Roberts that the bill would “block Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran” is untrue.

Kerry, after Schumer Criticism, Seeks to Allay Skepticism

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Jacob Kamaras/JNS.org

After he was apparently criticized by U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for comments he made last month on boycotts of Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry in his Monday address at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference sought to allay skepticism on nuclear negotiations with Iran and Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations.

Without mentioning Kerry by name, Schumer apparently took a shot at the secretary of state by saying those with “even with the best of intentions” who warn Israel that it will face increased boycotts if it does not reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians “have it all wrong.”

“Those quote unquote friends [of Israel] should be condemning the boycotts in any possible way, weakening them,” Schumer said.

In February, at the Munich Security Conference, Kerry said in connection with the outcome of the U.S.-brokered Israeli-Palestinian talks, “There are talks of boycotts [of Israel] and other kinds of things. Are we all going to be better with all of that?” President Barack Obama, asked by Bloomberg View columnist Jeffrey Goldberg if he agreed with Kerry’s assessment on boycotts, said in comments published Sunday that Kerry “has been simply stating what observers inside of Israel and outside of Israel recognize, which is that with each successive year, the window is closing for a peace deal that both the Israelis can accept and the Palestinians can accept.”

Obama also said, “If you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction—and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time… If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout [for Israel] is going to be limited.”

On Monday, Kerry told AIPAC, “I will continue to staunchly, loudly and unapologetically oppose boycotts of Israel. That will never change.”

Regarding the nuclear talks, Kerry said there is a “healthy debate” on the effectiveness of the negotiations and that “we welcome that.” He said American diplomacy with Iran “is guided by a simple bottom line: no deal is better than a bad deal.”

“The truth is, it is strong diplomacy that has actually made this moment [of getting Iran to negotiate] possible, and we need to give it the space to work,” Kerry said.

The interim nuclear deal with Iran, according to Kerry, has “not changed one piece of the sanctions architecture, and yet we are able to negotiate.”

“This is not a process that is about trusting Tehran,” he said. “This is about testing Tehran. And you can be sure that if Iran fails this test, American will not fail Israel. That I promise.”

A “good deal” with Iran would make certain that Iran could not obtain nuclear weapons, continually ensure that the Iranian nuclear program remains peaceful, and expand Iran’s “breakout” time for obtaining a nuclear weapon so that the world could act if Iran takes improper steps, Kerry explained.

Schumer—one of 26 senators to cosponsor the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, which would levy additional sanctions on Iran should the Islamic Republic violate the terms of the six-month interim nuclear deal or fail to reach a final agreement—said America “must keep tough sanctions in place until Iran agrees to give up nuclear weapons.” The New York legislator criticized the terms of the interim deal, which gave Iran $7 billion in sanctions relief.

“It is no secret that I believe that we should not in the interim agreement have reduced sanctions in any way, until Iran reduced its nuclear capability,” Schumer said, adding that many in Congress “believe that any reduction in sanctions relieves the psychological power of future sanctions” on Iran.

Kerry to AIPAC: I Will Always Oppose Boycotts of Israel

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told AIPAC’s annual policy conference that he would always oppose boycotts targeting Israel.

“I will continue to staunchly, loudly and unapologetically oppose boycotts of Israel,” Kerry said Monday evening at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s conference, drawing a standing ovation. “That will never change.”

Last month, Israeli leaders had complained about Kerry’s remark at an international conference in Munich that Israel faced increasing isolation and boycott calls in the absence of peace. He later explained that he was not advocating boycotts but warning of the likelihood of their increased popularity.

In his AIPAC address, Kerry — who is set soon to unveil a peace agreement framework for Israelis and Palestinians — pushed back against arguments that Israel ceding territory to the Palestinians as part of a peace agreement would lead to violence.

“There is a distinction between a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon or Gaza where nothing is resolved and a phased withdrawal which is negotiated,” he said.

He described security mechanisms proposed by U.S. Gen. John Allen along the West Bank and Jordan border that would be part of any agreement.

“We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza,” he said to applause.

Kerry also pledged that the United States would not make a deal with Iran that allows it to develop nuclear weapons.

“No deal is better than a bad deal,” Kerry said

He defended nuclear talks now underway between Iran and the major powers. Kerry said that President Obama was committed to diplomacy because a military option presented so many dangers.

“Those who say strike and hit need to check what might happen after we do that,” he said. “Only strong diplomacy can guarantee that a nuclear weapons program goes away for good instead of going underground and becoming more dangerous.”

At AIPAC, Treasury Secretary Touts Effectiveness of Iran Sanctions

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew on Sunday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference reiterated the Obama administration’s opposition to new Iran sanctions during the interim nuclear deal, and said the temporary relief that the six-month interim agreement gives Iran has not undone the impact of existing sanctions.

New sanctions could derail the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers and “splinter” the international effort that has made the current sanctions effective, according to Lew. “No amount of U.S. sanctions would have the same crippling power” without international backing, he said.

Additionally, “If the moment comes that we have to use force [against Iran], the world has to understand that we did everything possible to achieve change through diplomacy,” Lew said.

The treasury secretary said that the “vast majority of our sanctions remain firmly in place” and that those sanctions provide a “powerful incentive for Iran to negotiate.” He stressed that the oil and financial sanctions on Iran—what he called the “core architecture” of the sanctions— remain fully in effect.

Economic sanctions “have crippled Iran’s economy on many fronts,” including the fact that Iran’s rial currently has lost 60 percent of its value against the dollar, said Lew. He noted that when the interim deal expires, “so does the relief” on Iran, and that the current $7 billion in financial relief would only continue to flow to Iran if the country demonstrates week-by-week compliance with the interim deal.

“This is not a case of trust and verify,” Lew said. “This is a case of verify everything.”

Yet Lew acknowledged that America is “under no illusions of who we’re dealing with,” citing Iran’s support for terror groups such as Hezbollah and its failure to live up to past promises.

White House Says Netanyahu’s Visit Shows ‘Deep Bonds’ with Israel

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

The White House on Wednesday confirmed that President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will meet on March 3 and added that the Prime Minister’s visit “is a demonstration of the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel, and our close consultations on a range of security issues.”

That was White House press secretary Jay Carney’s way of stating that Obama is ready to beat Netanyahu over the head to come up with a deal with the Palestinian Authority if he wants the United States to get serious over Iran’s nuclear weapons development.

President Obama also will be meeting with Jordan’s King Abdullah II this Friday. A meeting Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah is also scheduled in the near future as tensions grows towards the supposed end of  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s nine-month peace talk program.

Netanyahu will address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) convention next month. He told the Likud Beitenu faction in the Knesset earlier this week that his visit to the United States will focus on Iran, the Palm, Israeli technology and tourism.

Angry NYC Ultra-Liberal Jews Told to Stuff It

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

On Wednesday, Feb. 5, ads will appear in numerous New York City area Jewish media, castigating a list of 58 angry New York Jews.

Why? Because those angry Jews publicly admonished newly-elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for daring to appear at a pro-Israel event, declaring his support for the sponsoring organization and for Israel.

The pushback is coming from a small, quickly mobilized group of business and other professional New York residents who want it known that “AIPAC, like the JCRCs and the Federations are the backbone of the American Jewish community and they represent mainstream American Jewry. Mainstream Jewry expects and appreciates support for Israel from its elected officials.”

What is going on?

DE BLASIO TOLD AIPAC HIS DOOR IS OPEN

In an unscheduled appearance at an American Israel Public Affairs Committee event on Jan. 23, to which the media were most decidedly not invited, Mayor de Blasio gave a fairly run-of-the-mill pro-Israel speech. No biggie pretty much anywhere in North America, and certainly not in New York City.

As Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, one of the New Yorkers who took out the ad told The Jewish Press, the mayor gave a solid, pro-Israel speech. But “these myopic, progressive New York Jews are so foolish, they don’t care that AIPAC supported Rabin and Barak when they were each prime minister.  Whatever government is democratically elected, that’s who AIPAC supports. But no, these people have to put their own selfish, progressive interests ahead of everything.

“When you start attacking the mainstays of the Jewish community, when AIPAC is unacceptable, that reveals a pathological selfishness,” Wiesenfeld growled.

For some reason, a gaggle of the “tolerant” progressive New York Jewish crowd, responded – shall we say, intolerantly – to what they saw as a possible betrayal of their progressive values by the most “progressive” of White politicians to make it to the top rung of city politics.

The public dressing-down of de Blasio came in the form of a letter which was sent out on the cheap electronically, then became viral, and ended up (for free) on the pages of the progressives’ darling Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

The angry epistle took de Blasio to task for foolishly telling a mid-town AIPAC crowd that New York City Hall’s doors will remain open to them.  According to the public letter, de Blasio told the AIPAC crowd, “When you need me to stand by you in Washington or anywhere, I will answer the call and I’ll answer it happily, ’cause that’s my job.”

But this group of angry New York Jews had some news for Mayor de Blasio. They told him that AIPAC does not speak for them. They told him that his job is not to do AIPAC’s bidding or be at its call.

“AIPAC speaks for Israel’s hard-line government and its right-wing supporters, and for them alone; it does not speak for us,” they explained.

For the few sentient Jews who do not know, perhaps it needs to be explained that AIPAC’s positions always reflect the positions held by whatever Israeli government is in office.  When the far left is in power, AIPAC’s positions mirror those of the far left. When the center or far right are in power, AIPAC supports the positions of the leadership of those factions.

To say it more plainly, the Angry 58s reject Israel’s democratic process and shun the most centrist pro-Israel organization there is. They reject their mayor’s recognition and support for that democratic process and publicly humiliate him for daring to say so.

WHO ARE THE ANGRY 58?

In the Angry 58 signatories are many whose names don’t raise an eyebrow. For example, it was no surprise to see Peter Beinart’s name, or Eve Ensler, or Lotty Cottin Pogrebin (and her husband, Bertrand – who knew there was one?) Same dull nods for Anne Roiphe and Gloria Steinem. Of course, the only surprise seeing the name Rebecca Vilkomerson – she heads the extremist Jewish Voice for Peace, staunch promoters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and ardent opponents of AIPAC – was to learn that she is a New Yorker.

AIPAC-Sponsored Trip to Israel a Big Issue in Nevada Lt. Gov. Race

Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Travel to Israel sponsored by an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee has become an issue in the race for Nevada lieutenant governor.

Sue Lowden, a former state senator, said her opponent in the Republican primary race, State Sen. Mark Hutchison, should have disclosed his 2013 trip to Israel with the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), the pro-Israel lobbying group’s educational affiliate.

“I think you should be on the safe side of reporting and report everything so you’re on the safe side of integrity,” Lowden told the Las Vegas Sun in an article posted Tuesday.

Her criticism came in the wake of a long report in the Sun on Sunday outlining how lawmakers define what is and isn’t a gift that requires mention on disclosure forms.

It noted that four Nevada state legislators, including Hutchison, did not classify the AIEF trip as a gift, saying that it was educational and also that they had the backing of legislative legal counsel in declining to define it as a gift.

AIEF trips to Israel are heavy with meetings and lectures, although they also include tourist stops and restaurant meals.

Lowden called the trip a “junket,” albeit one that might be useful for a lieutenant governor, who heads the state tourist board; she said her problem was that her opponent did not disclose the trip.

Hutchison called her criticism “desperate.”

Lowden lost the 2010 primary to be the Republican nominee for Nevada’s U.S. Senate seat; she earned notoriety when she suggested those who could not afford medical care could barter goods for it.

Will the Real Debbie Wasserman Schultz Please Stand Up?

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

First she was touting the sanctions imposed on Iran as the single most significant reason why Jews should be supporting President Barack Obama for re-election this past fall.

That was Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)(D), chief cheerleader for the quarterback at the top of her ticket, intimating that Obama was responsible for the passage of strict sanctions.

The truth, of course, was that Obama did his best to muzzle those sanctions every step of the way. And he did temper them as best he could by delivering exemptions to countries such as China, India and Turkey, thereby effectively removing at least several major incisors from the bite.

More recently it was reported that Wasserman Schultz has been aggressively backing the president’s position against Iran sanctions, and this time around she was allegedly telling her counterparts in the U.S. Senate not to support the Menendez-Kirk bill.

That bill, the Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act, calls for stiffened sanctions but only in the event Iran fails to fulfill its obligations under an agreement it entered into with the P5+1 countries, which became effective last Monday.

Wasserman Schultz was also reportedly telling her colleagues in the House that they should not sign on to the Cantor-Hoyer resolution which supports the Menendez-Kirk bill, although her Florida constituents are largely supportive of the measure.

And that’s where what we call a machloket arose.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Jan. 14, that the south Florida regional arm of the venerable American pro-Israel institution, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, wagged its finger in Wasserman Schultz’s direction. It reported that word went out to some members asking Wasserman Schultz to explain why she was lobbying against the sanctions legislation.

The WFB cited a report in the Daily Beast in which Mara Sloan, a spokesperson for Wasserman Schultz, said the congresswoman believes in “holding off on new sanctions until the diplomacy plays out.” Sloan also said that the congresswoman was “not working against introducing Iran legislation.”

Contrasting the position offered to the Daily Beast, the WFB then served up another quote from Sloan which seems to present Wasserman Schultz as having a very different position.

“Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been a strong supporter of sanctions against Iran and will continue to be,” Sloan told a Miami Herald blogger who called asking for the congresswoman’s position.

That Miami Herald blogger, Marc Caputo, called for clarification in response to an ad aired by the conservative Emergency Committe for Israel.  That ad called out Wasserman Schultz for what it said were her efforts to block the Iran sanctions bill. The ECI ad aired on Sunday news shows and on sports shows in the south Florida area. It is also available on YouTube.

Wasserman Schultz’s spokesperson also told Caputo that right now, ” there is not a resolution on sanctions offered in the House. As soon as one is filed, she will review the language, as she does with any legislation and decide whether it helps to ensure that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon.”

But that begs the question, because, according to an WFB earlier report citing congressional insiders, Wasserman Schultz was perhaps the driving force behind the implosion of the House resolution urging the Senate to pass the latest sanctions bill.

If you are diagramming the debate, get ready for a new player on the field.

Following the WFB versus DWS versions of anti-sanctions versus pro-sanctions positions, now comes another voice from AIPAC. On Jan. 24, a new AIPAC letter was sent out forwarding a statement from an AIPAC national board member denigrating earlier news reports suggesting Wasserman Schultz was anything but a stalwart defender of Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/will-the-real-debbie-wasserman-schultz-please-stand-up/2014/01/29/

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